VP candidate Palin - Polar Bears Not Endangered; Drill 4 Oil in AK - Please!
If McCain hoped to stop Democrats from getting much mileage out of the oil issue in this presidential election, he picked the wrong vice presidential candidate.
His choice, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, comes from a state whose lifeblood is oil. Palin favors opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas development, something McCain opposes. Her family even gets one of its paychecks from the oil industry: Palin's husband, Todd Palin, earned $46,790 last year as a facility operator for BP Alaska in Prudhoe Bay.
Oil and natural gas and the jobs they create are part and parcel of life in Alaska: "If you are not for opening ANWR, in the state of Alaska, you couldn't get elected dogcatcher," says former Alaska state Rep. Ray Metcalfe, a Republican-turned-Democrat who supports Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama and anticipates Palin's critics will probably zero in on the oil drilling issue.
But that live-off-the-land culture is largely foreign to voters in the lower 48, who are paying high gas prices without the benefit of the oil royalty dividend checks that Alaskans get each year. Eligible Alaskans received $1,654 each in 2007.
Palin is so pro-energy that she actually praised Obama earlier this month for calling on the United States to work with the Canadian government to build an Alaska natural gas pipeline.
"I am pleased to see Sen. Obama acknowledge the huge potential Alaska's natural gas reserves represent in terms of clean energy and sound jobs," Palin said in a press release put out by her office, though she wasn't entirely in favor of Obama's energy plan. She questioned his proposal to impose a windfall profits tax on oil companies to provide a taxpayer rebate, saying such taxes prevent oil companies from investing more in domestic production.
Democrats could also accuse Palin of picking on polar bears.
Palin opposes the Bush administration's decision to list polar bears as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. Alaska sued Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne earlier this month to try to overturn his decision.
Palin argues there isn't enough evidence to support a listing, and she fears it will harm oil and gas development in prime polar bear habitat off Alaska's northern and northwestern coasts.